HANCEVILLE - After defeating Carbon Hill to win the area championship five days ago, Hanceville was looking to advance to the regionals at Wallace State with a win over Locust Fork. It was a back-and-forth game between both teams, and free throws were the key as Locust Fork went on to win, 68-64 in overtime, ending Hanceville's season.
R.J. Evans got the Bulldogs on the scoreboard early with a layup. Bay Etheredge drilled a three to put Locust Fork on the scoreboard. After a Trey Swindle layup gave the Hornets a 6-4 lead, back-to-back threes by Fred Ellis and Brendan Flanigan gave Hanceville a 10-6 lead with 3:55 remaining in the opening quarter. A Daniel Goss three trimmed the lead to 10-9, but four quick points by Ellis pushed the lead to five at 14-9. Locust Fork tied the game at 14 behind a three by Etheredge and a layup by Ethan Moser, but an and one by C.J. White and a layup by Cameron Barbee helped Hanceville finish the quarter strong as they ended up taking a 19-14 lead after one.
Hanceville quickly pushed the lead to eight on a free throw by White and a layup by Flanigan. Locust Fork then went on a 9-1 run to the game at 23. Evans converted on a 3-point play to give the Bulldogs the lead at three, but Etheredge tied the game at 26 on a three, which was the score at the half.
There were three ties early on in the third quarter as each team went back and forth. After Drew Rogers gave the Hornets a 33-30 lead with a layup, Evans hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to one, but Etheredge hit a layup to push the lead back to three. Evans hit a layup, then Ellis added a free throw to tie the game at 35. Evans scored the final seven points for the Bulldogs, including a three right before the buzzer, to give Hanceville a 42-37 lead heading into the final quarter.
Josh Stanley hit a pair of free throws to increase the lead to seven, but Etheredge connected from the right corner to trim the lead to 44-40 with 6:59 remaining in the game. Etheredge trimmed the lead to 46-44 with another shot from behind the arc, then added a pair of free throws with 4:25 remaining to tie the game at 48. Trey Swindle gave the Hornets a 51-48 lead with a three from the left corner, then added a free throw to push the lead to four. After Evans cut the lead to two on a layup, Etheredge hit yet another shot from the three-point stripe to increase the lead to five at 55-50 with 1:41 remaining in the game.
Stanley went 1-of-2 from the line to cut the lead to 55-51. White stole a bad Hornet pass and wound up hitting a three from the left wing to trim the lead to a one-possession game at 55-54. After Rogers hit a short jumper to make it a 57-54 game, coming out of a timeout, Ellis threw a pass a little too far for Flanigan to reach, resulting in a costly turnover with 8.3 remaining. Hanceville had no choice but to foul, and Rogers missed both free throws, giving the Bulldogs a chance. Flanigan got the ball on the right wing and did a nice pump-fake, before drilling a huge three at the buzzer to tie the game at 59.
Adam Clements scored his first points of the game at the charity stripe, going 3-of-4, to give the Hornets a 62-59 game. Swindle and Etheredge each went a perfect 4-of-4 from the line to push the lead to 66-62. Evans almost lost the ball, then got it back and put it in to trim the lead to 66-64, but a pair of free throws by Rogers, plus a Bulldog turnover on their next possession, sealed Hanceville's fate as they fell just short at the end.
Etheredge finished with 32 points, nine rebounds and a pair of steals for Locust Fork, who improve to 14-14 on the season and will play East Lawrence on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Rogers had 10 points, nine rebounds and a pair of steals. Goss ended up with 10 points.
Evans led Hanceville with 28 points, four rebounds and a steal for Hanceville, who finish the season with a 15-12 record and went 10-3 in their final 13 games, including the postseason. Flanigan ended up with 10 points and seven rebounds. Stanley had eight points, five rebounds and two blocks. Ellis also finished with eight points and added four rebounds. White had seven points and nine rebounds.
"We played them three times already, and the tip-balls were mostly going their way tonight," Hanceville coach Daniel Wakefield said. "We knew Etheredge and Goss were the two guys that we had to keep our eyes on. We did a good job on Goss, but Etheredge hit some shots that were tough. He is a really good ballplayer."
Wakefield knows that his team will only get better next year despite tonight's loss.
He added, "I told them, I am really proud of you all. I was proud of the way we finished the season strong. We will mostly get everyone back next season, and we will continue to get better."
Copyright 2017 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.